If you’re one of those marketers/founders who thinks your product is too niche for a link building strategy (or SEO in general), let us be the first to tell you: it isn’t.
Every business can benefit from better search engine rankings. It’s where a huge chunk of potential customers are looking for you.
But B2B link building is quite different from, say, an ecommerce brand. Read on to learn today’s best tactics for earning high-quality links.
Link Building 101
Before diving in, a quick definition:
Link building refers to all the marketing activities that go into getting other websites to link to your own.
Simple enough, but don’t let that simplicity fool you. There’s a lot that goes into it.
As an example, here’s what B2B link building looks like in practice:
- Roadmap — Determine the most important pages on your site (e.g., your product landing pages and pillar content), and build a timeline/framework for doing so.
- Content optimization — You can improve your search rankings right off the bat by tweaking on-page factors like title tags, H1s, and meta descriptions (in addition, of course, to content quality). This is easy money and improves your results once you start building links to your content.
- Outreach — Connect with website owners and get them to link to your content. This is the core of link building and also the most time-consuming part.
- Vetting — You don’t want to link to PBNs or spammy websites. For the most part, you want niche-relevant backlinks from high-value sites.
- Placement — You can get links onto other sites through guest blogging, link exchanges, fixing broken links, and tons of other ways. You’ll need to negotiate with webmasters and develop the writing/technical skills to execute it.
- Performance monitoring — B2B link building isn’t something you can run on autopilot. You’ll need to invest in it every month, and track your progress. This means keeping an eye on your rankings, organic traffic stats, and revenue growth.
You’ll also need to know what keywords you want to target. Search intent, difficulty, and relevance to your business are all important factors to consider.
B2B Link Building vs. B2C Link Building
Like I mentioned, B2B link building is fairly different from B2C. Logistically, the steps I listed above are the same. But there are a few key differences in how you approach them.
Here are some important considerations unique to B2B businesses:
- Sales cycle — B2C requires some nurturing, but it’s nothing compared to B2B. The average B2B sales cycle lasts 102 days and requires 6 to 10 decision-makers. Buyers create a list of potential vendors (based on online research, before talking to sales). 90% of them end up going with a vendor from that day-one list.
- Broad content, niche audience — B2B buyers do tons of online research because they’re too busy to spend 30 minutes on every product/service demo. So, despite the fact you’re targeting a small group of people, you’ll want to build links to multiple types of product-led and informational content to maximize your chances of reaching them.
- Impact — The lifetime value of a B2B conversion is generally 5-7 figures. That’s basically unheard of in the B2C space.
- Search intent — Since B2C companies can create immediate sales off Google searches, they primarily focus on commercial intent keywords. This means they’re looking to rank for terms like “buy” or “shop.” B2B businesses often target informational keywords that are relevant to their industry and products/services.
TL;DR: B2B link building requires a tailored approach for long sales cycles and niche audiences, while the B2C equivalent could take a broader, more sales-oriented approach.
What is the Purpose of B2B Link Building?
If you’re wondering, ” Why on Earth do I care if these random websites link to my product?” you certainly wouldn’t be the first.
When Google’s search engine crawlers see that a reputable website has linked to your content, it tells them two things:
- Your website is trustworthy and high-quality.
- Your content is relevant and valuable enough for others to link to it in theirs.
Google is ultimately not there for you. It’s there for the people. And its goal is to give them the most relevant content to their search query.
But it’s a robot tasked with the impossible job of assessing billions of pages for each potential keyword and search query. So, it’s programmed to look for certain signals in user behavior and website content.
When other websites link to your content, Google sees that as a “vote of confidence.” Basically, Google is piggybacking off those sites’ “opinions” of your website and content. After all, why would someone choose to link to your content if it wasn’t rock-solid?
Organic traffic is the main reason you’d invest in search engine optimization. Assuming your website is also optimized for conversions, that’s what gets you…
- sales calls booked
- freemium product signups
- ebook downloads
- newsletter signups
- trust and authority in your customers’ eyes
…all the things you need to eventually generate top-line revenue.
Organic traffic is also the most valuable form of website traffic. Conversions from search engine results are, on average, nearly 15% higher than paid traffic sources.
Not Referral Traffic
In the B2B space, PR should definitely be part of your online marketing strategy. But don’t confuse it with SEO link building.
When a website links to yours because they featured you in a story, that’s not always an endorsement to Google. It’s just good old-fashioned press coverage.
A lot of the time, these sites (e.g., Forbes, Marketwatch, Business Insider) use the nofollow link attribute in their content. This tells Google not to give your website any SEO credit for being mentioned on a bigger site.
The aim of B2B link building isn’t to get referral traffic (though that can be a nice bonus). You’re trying to send signals of trust and relevance to Google. When a website owner links to your web page, you’re looking for a dofollow link.
In short: Not all links are created equal. If online visibility is your goal, PR alone won’t get you the dofollow links you need to get there.
Top 3 B2B Link Building Strategies
Now, you might be thinking: “But my product is so niche, there aren’t many websites that would link to it.”
And yes, if you’re in a very specialized B2B industry, your options may be limited compared to a more mainstream brand.
But, there are loads of opportunities to build your website authority and improve your performance on search engines.
Partnerships are the best B2B link building strategy. Period.
You can run partnerships in a ton of different ways:
- HARO — Help a Reporter Out is a free service that connects journalists and bloggers with expert sources. Responses to their queries could score you media coverage and links from those websites.
- Co-marketing — Partner up with businesses in your industry with a similar target audience (e.g., a joint study or two founders writing an article together). Combine your resources and reach, and you’ll both get more out of it than if you went solo.
- Guest posting — The tried-and-true link building strategy is still an excellent way to build links. Write great guest posts on relevant websites and naturally include a link to your own site.
- Guest appearances — Podcasts, online events, webinars, and co-marketing efforts on others’ blogs are great ways to leverage others’ audiences. Aside from brand mentions, social media links, and other things that won’t directly help your SEO, your host will include a link to your chosen page.
Channel sales partnerships will also inadvertently get you more links. You can leverage affiliates, resellers, distributors, etc., to link back to your website as part of your overall collaboration strategy.
When you create valuable content, others will reference it. When they do, they’ll place a website link back to it.
For them, this adds context for the reader and makes them seem more reliable (a.k.a. borrowed trust). For you, it gets more links pointing back to your site.
- Infographics and charts — People love visual content, especially when it’s data-driven. Include your logo or website link in the image, and you’ll get a backlink every time someone embeds and sources it.
- Content curation — When you reference other sources in your blog posts (which is good for SEO), reach out to them on social media and let them know. They’ll sometimes return the favor and link to your post.
- Reviews — Links are nothing if your product sucks. Review platforms like G2, Capterra, and Trustpilot include links to your product/service pages. And the better your product is, the more likely you’ll get good reviews and testimonials that other sites might reference.
- Badges — Some B2B businesses create endorsements for their customers to place on their website. These clickable badges come with a link back to your site.
- Product round-ups — Expert round-up articles are among the best ways to build domain authority through high-quality content. Depending on the site, they might take 10-40 expert opinions on a topic, and each one gets a backlink.
Whatever tactics you choose, prioritize longer phrases over short keywords. More than 95% of Google search queries are 4 words or more.
Think about it… When you look something up, what do you type into the search bar? Probably not just one word, right?
Long-tail keywords are also easier to rank for because there’s less competition. With fewer websites trying to rank for your phrase, it’ll be easier to get on the first page… and stay there.
Plus, long-tail keywords generally have a higher conversion rate compared to broader terms. They’re more specific, and people searching for them are closer to making a purchase decision.
Note: Some tactics are well-known but ineffective. Broken link building is one example of a link building tactic that’s good for building rapport but less valuable than, say, a guest post.
How to Get the Most Out of Your Link Building Efforts…
…work with an agency!
There are more link building tactics than those mentioned above. But, we can’t put them all in an article (or even an online course!).
Some of them are almost impossible to explain. And link building is such a dynamic field that they might not even be relevant a few years from now.
It’s one of those things it takes years of focused work to get really good at, and another few to understand what’s going on as a whole. That’s why it’s best left to the industry professionals.
Work with us, and we’ll develop an effective link building strategy specifically to make your B2B website rank.